London stages women's series battle

Olympic silver medallist and world record holder Brigid Kosgei will defend her Virgin Money London Marathon title on October 3.

The Kenyan star faces her compatriot and reigning TCS New York City Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei in a battle that could shape the destination of Series XIII of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Kosgei, who is also the reigning elite women’s series champion, has already earned the maximum 50 points, but victory for Jepkosgei would draw her level with the 27-year-old at the top of the leaderboard and give the New York winner the edge on head-to-head races.

Jepkosgei burst onto the marathon scene in the Big Apple in 2019 when she ran away from three-time New York champion Mary Keitany, graduating from a glittering half-marathon career with flying colours on the notoriously difficult course.

She set a new personal best (PB) of 2:18:40 last December at the Valencia Marathon, where she finished second to new Olympic champion Peres Chepchirchir (KEN).

Kosgei has been imperious in AbbottWMM races since her first victory at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. She followed that with a course-record win in London, and shattered the world record back in the Windy City in 2019.

Kosgei cruised to victory in the pandemic-hit London race of 2020, but could not add the title of Olympic champion to her CV, finishing second behind Jepchirchir in the stifling Sapporo heat.

It will be intriguing to see if Jepkosgei  – overlooked for the Kenyan Olympic marathon squad – can match what promises to be a searing pace set by the London title-holder in October, and perhaps send a message to her national selectors in the process.

Also in the elite women’s field are Ethiopians Roza Dereje, whose PB of 2:18:30 makes her the tenth-fastest female marathoner of all time, and Birhane Dibaba (PB 2:18:35), who won the Tokyo Marathon in 2018 and 2015 and finished second in the same race on three other occasions (2020, 2017 and 2014).

The other women to have run inside 2:20 are Valary Jemeli of Kenya, (2:19:10), Zeineba Yimer of Ethiopia, 2:19:28 and Tigist Girma, also of Ethiopia, 2:19:50.

Also returning is Australian Sinead Diver, who has had two top 10 Virgin Money London Marathon finishes in the past two years and was tenth at the Tokyo Olympics.

In the international men's field, Shura Kitata will also be gunning for his second straight London crown and the series lead. FULL STORY.